“You’re quite the gay so I figured you’d be good.”

1. Have you been treated differently by family or friends since becoming openly gay?

I’ve actually been extremely fortunate as far as the response goes since coming out.  My family has been extremely supportive and my friends don’t treat me any differently except to use me as their first stop for any lesbian-related questions.  Some of them seem to think I got some kind of manual upon coming out and know the answers to everything, which I certainly don’t, but I definitely don’t mind being asked and answering when I can.  I think that they love me and just want me to be happy.

2. Have you been treated differently by society since becoming openly gay?

In general, I haven’t really been treated differently.  Honestly, I think this might be partly because of my physical appearance – since I don’t look stereotypically gay, I don’t think people assume I’m gay just by looking at me.  So I would imagine this answer would be different if it was more obvious in my appearance.

3. Have you witnessed or been victim to prejudice about sexual orientation?

I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t experienced much prejudice aside from crude comments and closed-minded remarks.   I think it helps that I’ve surrounded myself with accepting people and I live in New York City.

4. In what ways has your life changed since coming out?

I don’t know if my life necessarily has changed as much as I have changed.  I’m more comfortable in my own skin – more confident, more outgoing.  It was like I had been carrying around this secret for years and once I finally came out, as cheesy as it sounds, it very much felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.  I was finally okay with just being myself.

5. In what ways are you involved in anti-prejudice movements?

I’m a member of the Human Rights Campaign, which is an organization that supports equal rights for the LGBT community.  It’s a lot about spreading awareness of what’s going on with the government (i.e. marriage equality and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and what we can do to voice our opinions of it.

6. What are some negatives society has imposed on homosexual people/couples?

I think that gay men suffer more from negativity imposed by society than gay women do.  Gay men are often portrayed as being overly eccentric, kind of catty and often as partiers who abuse drugs.  One thing society has imposed on both gay men and women is that they’re promiscuous.  As far as couples, society has conditioned people into comparing homosexual relationships with heterosexual relationships in the sense that I’ve been asked multiple times, “Which one of you is the man?” to which I have found the most accurate response to be, “Neither, that’s kind of the point.”

7. What are some positives you’ve experienced?

The gay community is a really exciting thing to be a part of.  Even a lot of my straight friends will tell me, gay bars are more fun.  I think that, because we know that not every place is accepting, people strive to make places that are openly supportive of the gay community particularly welcoming.  There’s also a great online community where people share their stories and support each other.

8. Were you nervous when deciding to tell people you were coming out?

Nervous is an understatement.  I was terrified.  There was no way to predict how people would react, how things would change.  Friends were easier – I told myself, if me being gay isn’t something they can accept, they weren’t true friends in the first place.  Family was the challenge – I didn’t want to upset anyone. I’ve seen the movies, the television shows, I didn’t want some sort of family feud to erupt just because I wanted to date girls.

9. What things held you back from becoming open once you definitely knew you were gay?

Well, I knew I was at least into girls in some respect when I was 14 years old.  I was living in a very small bubble and attending Catholic school. Being gay didn’t even seem like an option at the time.  In college, I managed to convince myself that maybe I was bisexual and I could ignore the half of me that was into girls. I just wanted to be “normal”.  I didn’t want to upset my parents or freak out my friends.  Eventually it got to be too much, the pretending.  I wasn’t happy and I realized I wasn’t going to be until I was honest with myself and with everyone in my life.

10. Overall, are you happy with your life being openly gay and living in a modern day society that is much more accepting than previous eras?

Coming out was the best decision I ever made – I just wish I had done it sooner.  As I said before, I’m more confident and sure of myself.  And yes, I realize how lucky I am to have come out in 2011.  Our country is changing and shifting and slowly becoming more accepting.  I’m also grateful for a lot of the media that is available now that portrays homosexual relationships in a positive light.  I think that a lot of the television shows that are on right now are doing wonderful things for teenagers – and adults, for that matter – struggling with their identity.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 04/08/2011.

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